How To Fix Pressure Washer Marks In Cement?

Pressure washing is one of the most reliable ways to get discoloration off surfaces. That’s why professional cleaning crews swear by it for decks, house siding, fences, as well as cement surfaces. For the most part, it’s seen as a reliable method to remove grime without having any risk of serious property damage. 

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Once in a while, though, you’ll hear of an incident where a pressure washer is just a little too good at cleaning—especially on concrete or cement. When a pressure washer is cranked up at too high a pressure, you will end up with washer marks clearly marking the path the pressure washer took while you cleaned things off. 

The Problem: Pressure Washer Marks

In terms of damage, this isn’t a major issue. It’s not like the cement is cracked or anything. However, it’s still visually jarring and a bit of a nuisance. In some cases, it can also be a cause of property value loss. That’s why so many people who are new to pressure washing want to find out how to get rid of the marks in their cement. 

Are All Pressure Washer Marks Fixable?

This is an important question to ask, and for the most part, the answer depends on the material that you’re washing and the condition. When it comes to surfaces like wood, there’s a chance you won’t be able to fully repair pressure washer marks—especially if they are severe. Concrete and cement, on the other hand, are relatively easy to repair.  

As long as the cement isn’t cracked or showing signs of extremely deep damage, there’s a good chance that you might be able to make the marks look better. So, what’s a homeowner to do? Here are some of the easier routes you can take to fix these marks…

Option 1: Just leave the marks be.

If you’re not dealing with an obsessive need to fix the marks, the easiest way to fix them also happens to be the path of least resistance. While it might not be the most visually pleasing method, one way to deal with the marks is to just leave them be.

Many light washer marks are primarily aesthetic in nature. Crazy as it sounds, most pressure washer marks will fade away on their own time. It makes sense, considering that very light pressure washer marks are literally only parts of cement that have been “sanded away” through high pressure exposure. Getting them dirty will give a more even appearance. 

So, it’s okay to wait a while, especially with lighter marks. Eventually, the marks will get dirty again, and blend in with the rest of the cement.

Option 2: Just clean the rest of the cement.

Not feeling too hot about having to wait for months to get rid of those marks? Not a problem, Sometimes one of the better options is to just continue washing the cement with your pressure washer until it’s all the same color.

This fix only works if the marks that you have aren’t actually signs of surface damage, but rather, marks that are just far cleaner than the surrounding areas. Marks like these won’t have a tactile difference, but will only look different.

You shouldn’t be too upset if you have light marks like these. If anything, having these types of marks just shows that you’re doing a good job washing the surface and that you should continue doing what you’re doing.

Of course, the best cleaning job wouldn’t have any extreme marks at all and cleaning it that diligently can be a pain. But, sometimes things tend to get a little crazy and you have to deal with noticeable results that demand more work to be done.

So, this option may take a little more effort, but the truth is that it won’t hurt. By the end of your cleaning session, you’ll have a spotless cement area that’ll look brand new. What’s so bad about that?

Option 3: Change the nozzle and wash the rest of the cement.

The second option will work, but the truth is that it will take a long time—especially if you used a nozzle that concentrated the water stream into a single point. If you want to fix things quickly, stop your pressure washer and switch out the nozzle for a wider option. 

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Once you switch out the nozzle, turn the machine on again and continue cleaning up your cement. The entire operation will go faster, and you’ll be able to gain a better control of your washing.

Option 4: Get some Purple Power on there.

The first three options work well if you’re only cleaning a small area, but when you have pressure washer streaks through a larger region, you may need a little bit of extra help. This is where having Purple Power, or muriatic acid, can come into play.

Muriatic acid will eat away at the grime that darkens cement, and will do so rapidly. It also works as a chemical stripper. This makes it a good fix for streaking. However, it’s important to recognize that muriatic acid can seriously harm cement if left on for too long. So, you’re going to have to strike a balance here.

The best way to use this fix is to spray the acid onto the affect area, then to quickly (like, almost immediately) spray/scrub the area down using water from the pressure washer. A wide, flat nozzle works best for this technique, so make sure you prep your machine before you try it out! 

Option 5: Sand down the cement.

Did you make a serious mistake with your pressure washing? If a mark is too deep in the cement, muriatic acid and continued washing will not be enough to work it out. At this point, you have severely damaged the concrete or cement you’re working with.  

The problem with severely damaged cement is that you can’t just wash away the damage or even it out. You will need to remove parts of the concrete to help it blend in better with the rest of your area. A light sanding is all it usually takes to get rid of the markings. 

Of course, things aren’t so easy if the cement you damaged is finished. Should this be the issue, you will have to finish the sanding job with a session of polishing or painting.

Option 6: Repaint your cement.

Not all cement is bare or polished. Pressure washed cement that’s been coated with paint is still susceptible to marking. Painted cement isn’t as easy to fix as regular, uncoated and untreated cement will be. 

Pressure washers have the potential to chip away worn paint, or even just remove it entirely. That’s why many professionals use high-powered pressure washers to get rid of graffiti on city streets. It’s just the easiest way to remove paint from most surfaces. 

This is great if removing paint is what you intended to do, but if you were simply hoping for a fast and gentle spray-down, this could be problematic. There is a way to fix this fairly quickly, but it can require extra skill and supplies based on what was initially on the wall.

I’m talking about painting it with hues similar (or ideally, identical) to the paint that was initially there. How easy this is to do depends on what was initially on the cement.  If the cement was originally painted with a single color, it’s easy enough. If it’s a mural, hiring a professional to fix it may be your best choice.

An Ounce Of Prevention Is Worth A Pound Of Cure

Fixing marks made by bad pressure washing is not always easy, as you can tell form the methods discussed. That’s why it’s best to prevent marks from happening rather than know how to fix them—if they’re even fixable. 

Just about every pressure washer mark is avoidable, as long as you are invested in preventing it. Prevention starts with education, and knowing the proper technique to use when washing your surfaces. Here’s what you need to know…

How Do Pressure Wash Marks Happen?

Pressure washer marks are forms of visible damage, fading, or degradation that can happen to materials that aren’t washed properly. The most common reasons for marks to appear include:

  • Washing too close to the surface.  You should never wash closer than six inches from the surface you’re trying to clean. With cement, the ideal distance between the nozzle and the surface is between eight to 10 inches. 
  • Using the wrong nozzle. In most cases, you shouldn’t need a high-pressure, concentrated nozzle to clean a surface. A wider nozzle can help reduce the amount pressure the cement or concrete is exposed to. 
  • Keeping the water pressure low. Lower pressures are less likely to cause lasting damage regardless of the surface you’re washing. While concrete and cement aren’t necessarily delicate, using a lower pressure can’t hurt. 
  • Using the right cleaning solvent prior to washing. If you choose to use a cleaning solvent on the surface you’re washing, make sure it’s compatible with the material the surface is made out of. Otherwise, you might accidentally damage your surface.
  • Using the cleaning solvent correctly. Many solvents can’t actually be kept on surfaces for longer than a matter of minutes (or even seconds) without actually damaging the material. 

How Can You Avoid Pressure Washer Marks In The Future?

Experience is often a great teacher, but when it comes to pressure washer damage, it’s a teacher that’s best avoided. The best way to ensure that you don’t damage cement in the future is to be gentle with your washer. These tips below will help:

  • Don’t spray your hose directly on the surface. Keep the tip of the nozzle at least eight inches away from the cement, and spray the surface at an angle. 
  • Avoid using a concentrated nozzle. Wide nozzles work best with cement, especially if you pick a 65-degree nozzle. If a 65-degree nozzle isn’t available, ask a hardware store employee for the next best thing. 
  • Degrease your cement before you use a detergent. Getting any grease that may be stuck on your cement removed is important to both the quality of your cleaning results and ensuring that your washer doesn’t work the grease deeper into the cement instead.
  • Check the cleaning solvents you use before you use them, and follow their instructions. The wrong solvent, or a solvent that’s improperly used, can spell disaster for any surface—concrete included. If you aren’t sure about the solvent you’re using, it’s better to stick to water.
  • Keep the pressure that you use low. Cement doesn’t need to have to have a high PSI to be cleaned well.
  • Always seal your concrete and cement after you wash it. Concrete and cement will erode and discolor if it’s not sealed. A quick spritz of sealant, sprayed over your surface will help keep your results for longer.

When You Should Consider Hiring A Professional

For the most part, pressure washing concrete or cement isn’t going to be a matter that requires professional care. Most people can take a DIY approach without worry of having serious damage incurred, and even if you do make a mark, you can always fix it through relatively simple methods.

The only time that people who regularly use pressure washers should seriously consider enlisting the help of a professional for a concrete deals with murals or painted concrete. Since murals and paint can be severely damaged through pressure washing, this is a matter that should only be done by professionals. 

Should professional washers advise you to avoid washing a painted slab of concrete or cement, listen to them. Pressure washing a mural that is extremely intricate can lead to irreparable damage that could easily cost thousands of dollars. If you’re concerned about paint and have been warned against pressure washing, washing the surface manually is ideal.

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